Whoopi Goldberg was terrified she'd blown her movie break in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple when she poked fun at the movie-maker's hit alien film ET

The comedienne-turned-actress invited Spielberg to a stand-up show while he was casting for the film and considering her for the part of CELIE - and decided to proceed with a joke at the director's expense, despite suggestions she leave the gag out of the show.

She recalls, "I used to do a piece... called BLEE-T, about what happens if ET lands, not in the good neighbourhood, so it's all about ET in the hood.

"He can't phone home because none of the phones work, he gets in with some rough people, he gets a jerry curl, he gets a girl (prostitute) to work the street for him... and then when his people come to get him, he shoots them because he doesn't recognise who he is.

"They said, 'Look, don't do this for Spielberg' so I did the show and somebody made the mistake of saying, 'Encore.'

"I said, 'OK, listen I've been told not to do this piece because they felt it was insulting,' and I said to Steven Spielberg, 'Listen, this is written with love, this is a parody and it's funny and I would like to do it for you.

"I did it and nobody laughed harder."